Keeping Your Heart Fit with Omega-3 Fish Oil

TORONTO, Feb. 25 /CNW/ - Did you know that over the average life span, a heart beats 2 to 3 billion times? As one of the hardest working muscles pumping oxygen and essential nutrients throughout your body an average of 100,000 times a day, the heart needs a lot of help to stay working fit.

Cardiovascular disease is largely preventable, yet heart disease continues to be one of the leading causes of death in Canada. Heart disease most often occurs when "plaque" — fatty deposits composed of  cholesterol, fats and other debris — builds up on the inside walls of the arteries, decreasing arterial elasticity, narrowing arteries, impeding blood flow, raising blood pressure, and increasing the possibility of myocardial infarction (heart attack) or stroke.

Although the rates of heart disease in Canada have been steadily declining over the past 40 years, there is new concern that mortality rates due to cardiovascular disease may once again swell with the escalating aging population, increased obesity in the general population, and the increased incidence of type 2 diabetes.

But the heart of heart disease is lifestyle — lack of exercise, a poor diet, and high stress. Nutritious meals filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, along with regular exercise can keep your weight in check, lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol, while delivering important nutrients to your body. But they're only part of the solution. There are others including adequate consumption of essential fatty acids (EFAs), which is vital to overall wellness. The body is unable to synthesize omega-3 fats, so dietary intake is essential — hence, the term "essential" in EFA. Most diets today are lacking in long-chain omega-3, so that's where the remarkable health benefits of oily fish and fish oil supplements fit in.

Omega-3 fish oils, rich in EPA and DHA (long-chain fatty acids,) have become popular supplements due to their well-documented benefits on the cardiovascular system. Fish oils exert a myriad of cardio-protective effects on the heart and blood vessels including a reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death, inflammation, and serum triglyceride levels.

As with any nutrient, it is important to consume sufficient amounts to ensure its protective effects. At this time, there are no established guidelines available from Health Canada or the FDA regarding the recommended daily allowance (RDA). The American Heart Association has published the following recommendation on their website:

    1) For individuals with no documented coronary heart disease it is recommended to eat a variety of fish (preferable fatty) at least twice a week.
    2) Patients with documented coronary heart disease. Consume about 1 gram of EPA+DHA combination per day.
    3)  Patients with high triglycerides should consume 2 to 4 grams of EPA+DHA.

People taking more than 3 combined grams of omega-3 fatty acids EPA/DHA per day should consult a physician about potential side effects, such as gastrointestinal distress. High intakes could cause excessive bleeding in some people.

Much of the Western world is at risk for cardiovascular disease, largely due to our sedentary lifestyle and less than optimal diets. Supplementing your diet with omega-3 fish oils is a natural health solution with heart.

Michele Sevier Biography

Michele Sevier, DNM, DAc, is an educator and advocate of natural health and healing. As an independent advisor to Nutrition House, she is actively involved in many facets of integrative medicine including research, the formulation of specialized supplements, and providing natural health solutions to the general public through Nutrition House's 'Ask Our Expert' service at www.nutritionhouse.com.

SOURCE Nutrition House Canada Inc.

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Telephone/Fax: 519-484-9967, or E-mail: micheles@nutritionhouse.com

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